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Assignment 9, Phong

1. what did you find (articulate the answers in your own words)

1.1. interesting about the article? The concept of deliberate system underdesign at design time due to incomplete knowledge regarding users' need is intriguing. My past involvement with system design and development were driven by the goal of capturing user need before system design. Although as a design team we never were able to fully capture all users' needs, that goal was certainly the holy grail. The underdesign concept is a more holistic and realistic approach. However, I am also struck the acknowledgement that success depends on not only on user motivation but management support.

1.2. not interesting about the article? Nothing.

2. what do you consider the main message of the article? The article suggests that users are the best source of requirements. And given that premise, an analysis of "what-is" finds that few tools today support the vision of user-designers and by extension that most tools don't fit the user's need. It argues that EUD tools must support the hard task of abstract conceptual thinking by providing tools and attendant processes that allow a user to gain this expressivity through active engagement in the design process and corresponding cognitive load reduction.

3. is meta-design an

3.1. interesting concept? why? Because it is based on the "symmetry of ignorance" between system designer and users and pose this gap as an opportunity instead of a problem. I also find the emphasis on user motivation and managerial support refreshing because in my own limited experience, software system flourish or fail due, to a large degree, whether it has the support of users. This support, in turn, depends on whether management has provided enough resources to ensure that the system reflects users' needs.

3.2. not interesting? why? I find it interesting.

4. what do you consider the major technical and social challenges associated with meta-design?

4.1. technical. The main technical hurdle lies mainly in representation. Given that users differs in cognitive preferences and background knowledge how do you represent the problem and solution domain such that they are easily understood by the majority of users.

4.2. social. The social hurdle is getting users to be comfortable with the idea of being a co-designer. But article also mentions that meta-design software systems must also provide the "appropriate structures to [help users] extend the system to their need. I would imagine that some of these structures would be a community of users helping each other but are there other structures?

5. describe your own experience with meta-design

5.1. with ideas associated with meta-design. From reading this and previous articles on cooperative problem solving systems and meta-design I realized that many software system that I use exhibit varying degree of meta-design. For example, a highly advanced word processor such as Word (with plug-in) is a meta-design system.

5.2. with systems built on meta-design? A weblog platform such as MovableType or Pebbles is a meta-design system in which the system is a platform that supports the creation of a weblog. As delivered the system is deliberately under designed and allows users to add functionality by writing or installing plug-ins.

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